The recently published ‘Next steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View’ (5YFV) by NHS England provides a helpful overview of the 5YFW journey so far, shows examples of what’s worked, and clearly maps out the future direction of the NHS. So rather than dipping into the executive summary or doing a search for ‘medicines’ or ‘pharmacy’, I encourage colleagues to take on the whole document with ‘bifocals’, looking at the big picture messages and the key pieces around where medicines optimisation fits in. This is of importance to anyone providing services to NHS patients in the next five years, with an overarching message being that of collaboration. Vertical and horizontal integration is part of the route map to bridge the health, quality and financial sustainability gaps, but I would note that collaboration within pharmacy is also a vital goal. Specifically on medicines, the central role of pharmacy professionals to deliver the necessary benefits across a broad spectrum of contexts is well documented in the paper and recognised at the highest level.
The ‘medicines optimisation’ pieces were well illustrated at the chief pharmaceutical officers conference in March 2017, when Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, outlined the opportunities that are now available for pharmacy to bridge these healthcare gaps, a message enthusiastically received by most colleagues I spoke to in the room from community and hospital pharmacy, and primary care. But perhaps this vision is not universally accepted, because I noted a different perspective from a local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) chair in the next seat. His comments made me reflect on how best to achieve collaboration within the profession.
During the past few years (as an acute sector chief pharmacist), I have worked far closer with colleagues from community pharmacy (both through the LPC and with multiples), and with primary care, than in my previous 35 years of practice. This has particularly been enabled by opportunities opened up by leading Academic Health Science Network and Sustainability and Transformation Plan (now Partnership) medicines optimisation programmes. Working together with such colleagues is making a difference to care being provided locally, and bodes well that strengthening the collaborative approach in pharmacy can and will deliver major benefits.
The 5YFV big picture of collaboration is one we need to recognise as a key priority for our future route map within the profession, and one that enables our services to make a real difference to patient care.
Director of Pharmacy
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust